Elementary Teacher Education Program
Common Elements of Lesson Planning
As a teacher, you will be making decisions daily about what information you need to include for
effective lesson planning. Different types of lessons (e.g., direct instruction, guided discovery,
cooperative learning, group discussion, investigative activities, etc.) require different forms of
planning. Lesson planning is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a teacher.
There are many ways in which lesson planning can assist you. For example, effective lesson
1) will assist you to organize your ideas and the ways you intend your students to interact
with these ideas;
2) will assist you in conducting classroom instruction more smoothly to meet the learning
needs of your students;
3) will assist you in assessing how your students learn and how much they are learning; and
4) will assist you in managing your time more efficiently.
The instructional team has identified core, or common, elements of lesson planning that are
components useful in any lesson plan that you develop. Attached is a template that lists these
core elements of a lesson plan alongside a short description.
Diverse learning needs: Your students have diverse learning needs; one primary purpose of
lesson planning is for teachers to prepare to meet these needs. There will be instances when you
will need to modify or adapt any of the following components both (1) to reflect the type of
lesson you are teaching and (2) to better meet the needs of your particular students.
Reminder: Lesson plans also vary by subject fields and their respective emphases. It is
reasonable to expect that there will be modifications to this "template" according to
recommendations by your course instructors.
Common Lesson Plan Template
Short Description or Explanation
Date, Time, and Place
Approximate grade level
(a "guestimate" based on experience/class
What do your students already know about this topic?
What do they need to know about this topic?
Goals and Student Objectives—
Consider what type of goals you have for this lesson:
Content or conceptual goals
Process goals, or
Opening Activity or Motivation—
A worthwhile task to introduce the topic of the day's lesson
Activities, Procedure, or Method—
It is recommended that you indicate a running time estimate
Assessment should be tied directly to your goals/objectives
Formative: Quick checks to assess students' understanding
during the lesson, including questions you intend to
ask the students during the lesson.
Summative: Exercises, homework, journal entries, project
What went well in the lesson? What did not?
What would you change or modify if you were re-teaching
Where do the students need to go next?
Other categories that are often needed in various contexts:
Summary or Closure—
Short conclusion that ties the lesson's activities together
and gives the lesson focus on the main idea
Re-teaching or Alternate Approaches— One way of meeting needs of diverse learners
Alignment with Standards—
Another way to meet needs of diverse learners
Illinois Learning Goals, National Content Standards, etc.
Science Lesson Plan Format (Template)
Target Grade or Age Level
Content (Concept) and/or Process Objectives: Statement(s) of what children will
do and/or the scientific fact(s), generalizations, concepts, or theory children
should be able to articulate as a result of the lesson and/or the science process
skills that students will practice
General Format: As a result of (in the course of) this lesson, students will
know/understand and/or experience and/or observe and/or practice and/or be
Examples: In this lesson, students will observe the results of mixing red
cabbage juice with acids and bases, and will understand that color change is
one possible sign of a chemical reaction. In this lesson, students will practice
the inquiry abilities of (1) gathering data and (2) using the data to construct a
reasonable explanation of what happened.
A very specific list of what materials are needed and how much.
Example: 10 8-ounce clear plastic cups
10 plastic spoons
1 plastic gallon container
A step-by-step description of what you will do as well as what the students will
• Be as specific as possible
• List questions that you will use for discussions
• Use first or third person, be consistent
Example: To start the lesson, instruct the students to take out their science
journals and write down one thing that they know about liquids. Circulate and
observe while students are writing, encouraging those who are having
difficulties. After all students have written a response, ask several students to
share what they have written. Continue a discussion of liquids by asking:
• Have you ever mixed two liquids? What happened when you mixed
• What do you think might happen if we mixed………?
When the discussion is completed, divide the students into groups of three.
Each group will be given………(materials) and will be instructed to…………
(list instructions for students.)
While the students are………(do the following)……, (remind students to record
data in science journals, etc.)
When students have completed the activity, lead a discussion of their results,
using the following questions to guide the discussion………….
Informal or formal, for example, class discussion or grading of science journal